Alexandre Ferreira fires up his teammates before a 2018 VCC match
Lausanne, Switzerland, March 22, 2019 – Portugal are the newcomers in the men’s 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League and Alexandre Ferreira is one of the big reasons they get to play among the world’s volleyball elite. The outside hitter of the Portuguese team made a solid contribution to the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup victory, which earned them a well-deserved spot in the VNL.
Captain Alex Ferreira lifts the VCC trophy among his Portuguese teammates
Without setting any specific goals for their rookie season, the Portuguese will try to make the most of their appearance in the VNL this summer. “The most important thing is to enjoy playing among the best national teams in the world and to try to raise our level,” Ferreira told fivb.com. “It will be a difficult competition, both mentally and physically - five weeks of playing at the highest level.”
For their VNL debut, the Portuguese will travel to Argentina where they will play against the hosts and two other teams with a Challenger status, Bulgaria and Canada, from May 31 through June 2. In the third week of the preliminary round, Portugal will host a pool, entertaining Brazil, China and Serbia. 203-cm-tall Ferreira is looking forward to that. “It is always very motivating to play at home, especially at the highest level. It is really good for our sport, as we will show the people in Portugal that it is not just football we are good at,” he said.
It was on home ground where Portugal earned their promotion to the VNL. The country hosted the inaugural edition of the Volleyball Challenger Cup in Matosinhos and the squad went through all four of their matches undefeated to triumph with the trophy. Ferreira himself was the best scorer for Portugal and the second best in the tournament.
“With the VCC held in Portugal, we saw an opportunity to dream about something big. I knew it would be possible. And it was! We won without losing a single game! It was a historic moment for volleyball in Portugal, which no one expected,” Ferreira pointed out.
Ferreira attacks against the Czech Republic in a 2018 European League match
Before the VCC, Portugal made the semifinals of the CEV Golden European League with Alexandre Ferreira tallying up 155 points in eight matches and topping the best scorers’ chart of the competition. “We didn’t expect to make the final four, because our focus was on preparing for the European Championship qualifications. Unfortunately, the finals did not go the way we wanted,” said Ferreira. “Within a limited group of very young players, my individual performance was very important since I was the captain and one of the older players. I always try to do my best, score the maximum to help reach our goals as a team. The rest is not so important to me.”
Alexandre, now 27 years old, is lucky to play alongside his brother Marco Ferreira, who is four years older, in the national team. “It is an honour for me. He is a great player, but unfortunately he has been unlucky to sustain some serious injuries. He is a fighter and a good example to me. We have a very good relationship both on and off the court.”
In his club career, Ferreira has played for teams from Portugal, Italy, Turkey and South Korea. As of the current season he has been competing for Poland’s Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie, now fifth in the PlusLiga standings. “I enjoy playing in Poland. It’s a really strong league with many young players, who have potential, and each game is a big fight. They have the best fans ever and the recognition of our sport there means a lot to me,” he said, also bringing up his previous season in distant Korea. “Korea was really hard and a big learning experience for me - many games, practices, rules to follow, short time to rest and recover... But I was lucky with the club I had. They were very professional and helped me with everything. The conditions were great, the food was good and the fans were amazing!”
Living and working away from Portugal for most of the year, Alexandre enjoys spending his off-time in his home country. “It’s one of the best places in the world to spend the summer time. We have mountains, rivers, long coast with beautiful beaches, amazing food and wine... As a professional athlete, I spend a long time far away from all these good things I love, so spending time with family and friends is what I do in my free time. My second passion is music. I always listen to music and I like going to festivals...”
Ferreira thinks Wilfredo Leon is, without a doubt, the best player in the world and would like to have him among his teammates on the squad he was asked to dream up. “Gyorgy Grozer is a beast! He hits stronger than anyone and his serve is a killer,” Alexandre continued. “Benjamin Toniutti spreads magic on the court. He’s a master! Joao Jose is the most versatile middle blocker and the fastest I have ever seen. Sebastian Sole’s great elasticity makes him big. He is complete - an amazing blocker and spiker. Pawel Zatorski makes the court look small when you play against him. He gives security in reception and in defence he’s like an animal!”